Hiking St Olav Waterway

A local high school student from Nagu/ Nauvo took the challenge to hike 200km of St Olav Waterway, through the Finnish Archipelago from Turku to Mariehamn on the Åland Islands. She did it!! Well done Mira!


Kayaking St Olav Waterway

You can experience St Olav Waterway in so many different ways!
Tove aims to be the first person to complete the trail mixing walking with biking, kayaking and sailing traditional wooden boats.
Which method will you choose?


Tour de Archipelago Challenge

The importance of preparation (Alexander)

Together with Lina, Christian and Markus I participated in the St. Olaf project this year. For us, it was clear from the very beginning that we would test the route from Åbo to Korpo by bike, not by foot. This due to the fact, that both Christian and Markus had walked the same route the year before, and wanted to spice it up a little. Lina and myself haven’t been a part of the project from the beginning, but thought it would be nice to challenge ourselves a bit, and a Tour de Archipelago sounded perfect.DSC_0005

We knew we had a lot to plan and organise before we could head out, and we gave ourselves loads of time by picking a date a couple of months prior to our eventual departure.

First, our gear was scattered all over southern Finland. A bicycle here, a tent and sleeping bags there, proper clothing somewhere else. I am glad we had enough time to gather everything. I should add, that we decided to set up camp in the middle of the forest instead of seeking shelter in a guest house. We all share a love for nature, so it wasn’t a hard decision at all.

Second, it’s ALWAYS more to it than you could ever imagine; it usually is too optimistic to think that everything will go exactly according to plan. In other words, new details you must address will emerge as your planning progresses. You will realize you need this tool for the bike in case of… What if the weather isn’t what you hoped it would be? What do we need if we get blisters? A flat tyre? Careful planning will see to it, that you will get most of it sorted out.

I said “most of it”, because sometimes life just gives you unexpected lemons. Take our journey as an example: Markus’ pedal broke after roughly 15 kilometres. We laughed about it because it was so tragicomic. He has had that bike for a couple of years now, ridden it almost every day. Never before has he had problems with it; it has run as smoothly as clockwork. But, obviously, when he least expected it, and at a time when he need it to work with him, it broke down. Fortunately for us we were only 8 kilometres from Pargas, our first snack break, so we managed to get him to a bicycle service without bigger problems. It was irritating of course, and it slowed us down, but it could’ve been much worse.

Another thing that happened was rain. About a week before our departure it became clear to us that we had to prepare for heavy rainfall. According to the forecast, it was set to rain from five in the afternoon ‘til three the next morning. This was unfortunate, but it was not the end of the world. It simply meant we had to do some additional planning. Proper clothing, as well as extra dry clothing, became the key. We headed out early in the morning, hoping to arrive in Korpo before the rain. Due to some complications along the way we didn’t make it. It didn’t rain too much, but the tent got wet while we were setting it up. We had arranged an additional plastic sheet to cover the tent with, to keep most of the water out, which it did. What we didn’t consider was condensation. Although we managed to keep most of the rain outside, droplets of water started forming on the inside of our tent, which made everything we had stacked along the inner edges of the tent wet. Our phones, snacks, magazines, dry clothes, our hair and our sleeping bags. This was not too comfortable, but we learned our lesson; see to it, that you take bags of different sizes with you where you can put your clothes and valuables, and where they’ll be safe from water and humidity. Cold weather is not your enemy, water is. I would much rather sleep in a tent in 10 degrees below freezing than in much warmer, but wet, conditions.

Lastly I would like to say a few words about what you could call “motivators”. In times of both physical and mental exhaustion, you learn to appreciate the littlest of things. In such moments of distress and despair, the so called motivators will come in handy. For some people, it might be a chocolate bar, for others a raspberry flavoured soda. Some may appreciate a cinnamon roll, or maybe something as simple as a cigarette. Whatever your guilty pleasure may be, it will play an important role in keeping your mood up and your self-pity at bay. Allow yourself a treat every now and then, and I’m sure you will overcome your discomfort, no question about it.


Day 1 (Markus)

On April 20, we started our day by getting assembled at Turku Cathedral by 09:00 in the morning. James Simpson got there and made a small interview that was posted on the facebook fanpage St Olav Waterway Pargas/Parainen. Shortly after that we began our journey towards Korpo. The weather was nice and the temperature just perfect. As we approached the countryside the traffic got calmer and we could enjoy the ride more. We biked in a nice convoy and tried to have a good pace on the velocity. After about 15 kilometers of biking my pedal got totally broken. We tried to fix the bike by many manners, but we did’nt manage. Even though we had a bunch of tools with us, we didn’t unfortunately have the proper tools to fix the pedal. But somehow I managed to bike all the way to Pargas, where we found a bikeshop that could fix the bike.

We had a break at Pargas and bought some snacks from a grocery store. Shortly after that we continued. We had been biking about 23 km at this point, and there was long way ahead us. The wind was getting stronger and it always felt like there was headwind, which made it significantly harder to pedal. We had many short breaks along the way to hydrate ourselves. When we arrived to Nagu we had a simple dinner at the Seo gas station. At this point, Alexander and Lina decided to take the bus to Korpo. They simply loaded their bikes on the bus and continued with the bus. Me and Christian decided to bike the last part from Nagu to Korpo, and the minute after we began to ride it started to rain. It’s not comfortable to ride in the rain, but the temperature wasn’t that cold, so the rain didn’t bother us that much, we also had rain repellent clothing and backpacks that didn’t let the equipment to get wet. After an exhausting ride we finally arrived to Korpo and Alexander and Lina had already chosen a good camping spot and made all the major preparations. Me and Christian had a little trouble finding the camping spot deep inside the forest, but when we arrived there, the locations looked marvellous, it was a really silent and calm place next to a small lake in the middle of Korpo island.

We started to make our camping site comfortable by adding a tarp above our tent to prevent the rain. We swapped our clothes to dry ones before entering the tent and our sleeping bags. It did rain throughout the night, and as earlier mentioned, lots of condensation appeared that made the inside really wet. We all slept good on in our nice sleeping bags, except Christian who had a summer sleeping bag that made the sleeping a little cold for him.


The Budget (Lina)

Usually travelling in Finland can be rather expensive in my opinion. The transport, the food and the accommodation can all together come to cost a small fortune. This wasn`t a problem for us, partly because this project is founded by the EU and partly because we choose the only free way of travelling. Spending little money is harder than spending a lot of money, so we had to plan a lot beforehand to stay on the relatively small budget. All in all the only thing we needed money for was food, the bus and spare something for “what if´s” to be on the safe side witch was fortunate.

The thing that costed me the most was to get my bike in a proper condition for the long road ahead. Beside that everything else was pretty cheap. Since we choose to travel before the summer season our dinner options were limited and we got a proper meal at a gas station for around 10€ plus some small things to eat along the road from a supermarket. The bus cost under 20€ and the bus driver was a decent and nice man.

I´m happy to say that we had a very nice experience for a small sum of money, I proved myself wrong.

Day 2 (Christian)

The night had been awful, but in the morning we had the sweetest wakeup call ever. Birds chirping and the sun is shining, the moss was moist from the rainy night and our sleeping bags were wet. Even tho we had a rainy night the sunshine cleared off our cold. We couldn’t have asked for any better. Once all woke up and had a quick stretch we put our wet clothes on tree branches to dry off and packed our stuff. Once we had packed our stuff we decided to move on to our next destination, to meet the landowners.

We sat on our bikes, legs were stiff, our knees hurt also our buttocks were a bit sore from all the biking. Our next destination was about 6 kilometres ahead of us, but we were so excited what was waiting us. We reached our destination and what was waiting us was a red wooden house up a hill. We chatted a bit with the landowner and had some snacks before we entered the long awaited sauna. Oh how it felt good to sit in a sauna and actually get a slight tingle of life in my toes. After some relaxing in the sauna me and Alexander decided to take a swim in the lake near us. The water was a few degrees warm but it felt so good. After a dip in the water we went back into the sauna to warm ourselves again.

Food time! We had a nice breakfast consisting of bread, eggs, cheese, ham, salami and some vegetables. Oh it was so delicious. After we ate we chilled for a while but then we had to move for our next destination. So we packed our stuff again, thanked the landowners and headed to the bus stop. The bus was on time, and we put our bikes in the bus and entered the bus. We made it. We survived a 100km bike trip.

Kökar, center of the Baltic Sea


We are three girls, Clara, Daniela and Annika, who walked the St Olav Waterway route from Galtby, via Kökar and Långnäs to Mariehamn 7-9.4.2017.

Early on Friday morning we started with bus from Turku to Galtby, from where we took the ferry to Kökar. When we arrived, we walked to the store to buy some ingredients for dinner and breakfast, since no restaurants on Kökar are open this time of the year. Our first impression of Kökar is that the locals are very friendly. Almost everyone we met waved at us and the lady in the store was so nice (and patient, since we in the last minute before paying decided we also wanted ice cream). After fitting all the food in our backpacks, we started walking towards Antons Gästhem, our accommodation. It had a fully equipped kitchen, dining room, fireplace and even a sauna, so we were very satisfied with our choice of accommodation. At Antons Gästhem we met up with our guide Joel who took us on a boat trip. Our guide told us about Kökar, the people who lives there, the nature and about the animals you can spot while cruising on the waters of Kökar (deer, swans, eagles and, if you’re lucky, seals!). Our guide showed us the actual starting point of the trail, on the east side of Kökar, but we decided to start from the middle of the island, where he dropped us of. We started walking east at first, since we wanted to check out a small hill from where you could get a nice view. (It is marked with a sign that says “UTKIK”, so it is easy to find!). After that we continued walking west. The terrain was nice to walk on. It is mainly sand roads with little to no traffic. After a while the terrain gets more difficult, and you have to walk on small cliffs and forest terrain, but at that time we were already lost. So, our number one tip is to not follow the clear path/dirt road as we did, but to carefully look for the signs for the right trail! When we found our way back with a little help from Joel (our guide), we walked past a place where we could see traces from the Bronze Age. Eventually we got to our goal for the day, the church on Kökar’s north west side. We saw the church by the sea in the sunset and it was beautiful. Joel then offered us a ride back to Antons Gästhem on his four-wheeler. Too kind!

Our top 3 reasons why we recommend walking on Kökar:

The nature. Whichever direction you look you will be amazed by how beautiful it is.

It is peaceful. There is almost no traffic, you can spot a lot of animals, and the view over the sea is stunning.

The people. The locals are very friendly and know a lot about the island, and they will gladly help with anything. They are almost too kind.

Some tips from us to you:

It is good to have clothes in layers, since it is easy to take of a layer when it gets hot in the sun, or put on a layer for windy boat trips.

Make sure you get to the store in time before it closes, and look up the opening hours! Kökar is a small place, so the store isn’t open every day. (But it has everything you need, so don’t worry about that)

If you have access to a boat and you have the whole day to walk, start on the east side and walk west towards the church. If you only have half a day, start in the middle and walk west.

You don’t have to be very fit to walk the trail, but we wouldn’t recommend it for elderly or small children because of the terrain. (You can walk on the main road as well, which is easier, but it is not the same.

Clara, Daniela and Annika

¡Comienza la aventura! The adventure begins!

La mañana del 7 de abril fue particularmente dura. El bus salía a eso de las 6 de la mañana desde la Catedral de Turku a unos 15 minutos andando de mi apartamento. Distancia con la que estoy especialmente familiarizado al recogerla todos los días pero que en esa mañana del 7 de Abril parecía una eternidad y mucho más recorrerla a -2 grados. Una vez en el autobús, mis compañeras de viaje se ponían al día entre risas y signos de entusiasmo ante el viaje que se nos aguardaba. Bueno, realmente esto es meramente intuición, mis conocimientos de sueco no van mucho más allá de intuiciones y a veces ni eso. Mientras, 2 horas de viaje nos esperaban por lo que decidí recuperar las horas de sueño que tanto me faltaban siendo el único de los viajeros que durmió. Nadie podía dudar que fuera

DSC_0523The morning of the 7th of April was particularly hard. The bus was to depart from the Cathedral of Turku at 6 sharp, cathedral located 15 minutes away from my apartment, distance I am familiar with, but that morning, the distance seemed to be eternal walking below 0. Once in the bus, my mates caught up amongst laughter and signs of enthusiasm in light of the adventure which awaited us. Actually, this is just a mere guessing since my Swedish skills don’t go much beyond. I decided to sleep and recover the hours of sleep I was missing, being the only hiker who slept during the 2 hours bus journey. None of my Finnish friends could put my Spanishness into doubt.

Llegamos al puerto y allí estaba James esperándonos con café, bollos de canela y una clase de savia que nos dio aprobar. James, por cierto, es uno de los encargados del proyecto del St Olav Waterway. Una vez montados en el barco, el archipiélago se lucía gracias al sol resplandeciente que aquel día de 7 de Abril teníamos.  Era mi primera vez navegando y cruzando el archipiélago del cual quedé enamorado y fue ahí cuando me di cuenta que estaba ante una gran experiencia para llegar a conocer más este pequeño rincón del planeta.

We alighted at the last station where the harbor was. There was James, waiting us with coffee, cinnamon buns, and some sort of sap. James, by the way, is one of the persons in charge of the St Olav Waterway project. Once the boat had docked, the archipelago awaited us, the sun was beating down and I realized I was about to face a great experience to get to know more about this little corner of the planet.

3 horas pasaron hasta que llegamos a Sottunga donde nos esperaban 2 isleños que con su coche nos llevaron al Bed&Breakfast que habíamos reservado. Al dejar las cosas, empezamos a caminar de la mano de 3 isleños quienes no pudieron ser más amables con nosotros. Nos guiaron por los 8 kilómetros que recorrimos, nos mostraron y nos descubrieron los lugares más recónditos de su pequeña isla. Paramos cerca de la costa y allí nos deleitaron con un pequeño tentempié que constaba de un sándwich, bollos de canela, café y un zumo casero del que no me olvidaré en la vida. Qué bueno estaba. Al terminar de caminar y una vez de vuelta al hostal, Heidi y Mathilda me comentaron que íbamos a ir a ver a la iglesia de la isla y que el dueño del hostal nos iba a llevar. No llegué a entender realmente qué tenía que ver el dueño del hostal con la iglesia y por qué nos la iba a abrir para nosotros. Mientras pensaba sobre el tema, empecé a indagar y a cotillear la decoración del hostal. Me quedé petrificado al leer una frase de una pequeña caja, que a saber qué contenía, ¨Every time you masturbate, a loose cat is to die¨, ¨Cada vez que te masturbas, un gato suelto muere¨. Todo empezó a cobrar sentido, el dueño del hostal que nos iba a abrir la iglesia para nosotros y nos la enseñaba. Sí, el dueño del hostal era nada más y nada menos que el cura de la isla. Me di cuenta de lo difícil que es reconocer a un cura protestante.

Three hours went by until we got to Sottunga where two islanders were to pick us up and take us to the Bed&Breakfast we booked. We left our backpacks and started hinking along the route together with three other islanders who couldn’t be more generous with us. They guided us along 8 km and showed and disclosed wonderful and secret places in this island of them. We stopped by the shore where our day was made by incredibly tasty sandwiches, coffee, cinnamon buns and a later-on-beloved homemade juice I will never forget in a million years. What a tasty juice, Oh my god! Once we finished to walk and had some rest at the hostel, Heidi and Mathilde told me we were heading to the Church of the Island in a few minutes since the owner of the hostel was to show it to us. At first, I did not understand the link between the owner of the hostel and the church but then while I was awaiting before going there, I decided to look into the decoration the hostel had. I read a banner which took me aback. ¨Every time you masturbate, a loose cat is to die¨. Everything made sense in my head, I understood the link between the owner and the church, the owner was no more and no less the priest of the island. After this, I realized how difficult It was to spot a protestant priest.

El día terminó, y no recordaba una noche en la que me haya ido a dormir tan temprano como aquella. Estaba destrozado, solo podía pensar en dormir y en el madrugón que me esperaba al día siguiente.

We were done for that day. I did not remember a night I had been off to bed that early. I was worn out, I could only think of sleeping and the early time we were to wake up the following day.

Al día siguiente, el cura nos llevó al puerto para seguir nuestra aventura rumbo a Mariehamn. No antes de disfrutar de un maravilloso desayuno, que supo cómo estar en el paraíso. Esta ruta eran palabras mayores para mí, 30 kilometros nos esperaban delante nuestra una vez que el barco atracara en la isla principal de Aland Islands. Afrontamos los 30 kilómetros como pudimos, cada kilómetro una desesperación. Una desesperación más acentuada cuando una parte nueva de tu cuerpo empezaba a doler. No sabíamos que hacer para que el tiempo pasara más rápido. Menos mal que me llevé unos altavoces para escuchar algo de música y amenizar todo el trayecto. El grupo empezaba a separarse, unos que podían más que otros. Yo solo pensaba en llegar de una vez por todas a Mariehamn. 30 kilómetros a nuestras espaldas al llegar a la ciudad, decidimos dejar las cosas en el hotel e ir a alegrarnos el día a Dinos, donde me comí una hamburguesa por la que me harían falta 30 kilometros más para quemar. No me importaba, la verdad.

We had an amazing breakfast and right after the priest took us to the harbor to catch the boat which was to take us to the very last inland of our adventure. The route we were about to face was 30 km long, and we actually didn’t know the torture we were unavoidably heading to. We faced the route as we could, every kilometer was hopeless. Hopelessness was arising all the while a new part of our body started aching. Fortunately, I took with me speakers to listen to some music while hiking, a decision my mates appreciated a great deal. The group started to get separated, ones who could more than others. I just craved for our arrival in Mariehamn the whole time. 30 kilometers we put behind once we got there and we decided to grab some food at Dinos. The exhaustion didn’t stop us from walking a little bit more to reach the restaurant where I ate such a big burger for which I would need other 30 more kilometers to burn. I did not care at all.

DSC_0385Al día siguiente volvíamos a casa, muy satisfechos con nosotros mismos sobre todo al saber que pudimos con esos 30 kilómetros que tanto nos martirizaron.

The following day, we were off to Turku, honestly proud of ourselves since we could manage to hike 30 kilometers in one day.

Comenzaremos hablando de quien era St Olav

Who was St Olav? An English translation is found lower down.

Comenzaremos hablando de quien era St Olav. St Olav fue el rey de Noruega a lo largo del siglo XI, y destaca por ser la persona que estableció la religión cristiana como oficial en el país nórdico, hecho que le valió para que la Iglesia Católica tras su muerte le reconociera el estatus de Santo.


A día de hoy, y en recuerdo del santo, se está intentando crear una ruta peregrina que ocuparía gran parte del norte de Europa (Noruega, Suecia, Finlandia y Rusia), y nuestro cometido dentro del proyecto, como estudiantes de turismo, fue probar diferentes rutas alrededor del archipiélago de Turku y estudiar su viabilidad.

Nuestra aventura comenzó un viernes, 7 de abril, cogimos un bus local desde Kaupatori (Turku), hasta Sattmark, que es donde empezaríamos a caminar hasta el puerto. Allí cogeríamos nuestro primer barco dirección a la isla de Pargas. Durante nuestro camino hacia Pargas, tuvimos un encuentro con James, el organizador del proyecto, el cual nos condujo hacia una colina cruzando el bosque, y en la cima de la colina pudimos observar uno de los paísajes más maravillosos de toda nuestra aventura, teníamos una vista privilegiada de todo el archipiélago, siendo una imagen digna de recordar.

Tras este pequeño desvío seguimos caminando por la ruta principal, en dirección al hotel donde pasaríamos la primera noche, en Vestergard. Antes de llegar a nuestro destino, encontramos, de camino una fábrica de vasos, la cual desafortunadamente estaba cerrada. A continuación, llegamos a Vestergard, donde dormimos en un magnífico hotel, en medio de la naturaleza, y cuyo desayuno fue simplemente maravilloso.

La siguiente mañana fuimos dirección a nuestro nuevo destino, Grannas. Al principio caminamos por la carretera principal, junto al mar, teniendo unas vistas realmente bonitas. Tras esto cruzamos dos largos puentes que unían las vistas, hacía muchísimo viento, e incluso daba un pelín de vértigo, pero las vistas que se tenían desde los puentes fue de lo mejorcito del segundo día.

Hicimos una parada para comer en Nauvo, en un restaurante junto al puerto, con lo cual aprovechamos para visitar el pueblo. Tras esto , y ya que la distancia entre Nauvo y Grannas era muy escasa, y teníamos suficiente tiempo para caminar, decidimos tomar una ruta alternativa, y cruzar bosque a través, escalando pequeños desniveles, y bordeando el lago que separaban ambos emplazamientos. Fue realmente un reto, si bien,  la distancia no era muy larga, el desnivel y la compleja orografía del mismo, nos hizo tomarnos un buen tiempo para completar ese trayecto.

Finalmente llegamos a Grannas, donde pudimos descansar, como curiosidad decir que el hotel estaba lleno de pescadores, que estaban “disfrutando” la noche.

La mañana siguiente nos dispusimos a realizar la última marcha senderista, esta vez, con dos compañeras menos, las cuales tuvieron problemas musculares debido al sobreesfuerzo del día anterior, con lo cual tan solo dos personas cubriríamos la distancia final de 24 kilómetros entre Grannas y Korpoo.

Fue el día que más distancia recorrimos, pero a su vez fue el día más asequible en cuanto a dificultad del trayecto. Comenzamos caminando por unos caminos alternativos que bordeaban un largo, probablemente, las mejores vistas del último día. Tras esto, volvimos a la carretera principal, y ya no la abandonamos en todo el día. Podemos destacar como curiosidad, que tuvimos que coger otro barco para cruzar entre islas (estos viajes en barco son gratis), y que en nuestro camino hacia Korpoo, nos encontramos una furgoneta vendiendo helados en medio de la nada. ¡Sin duda fue un buen incentivo!

Tras este pequeño descanso, llegamos al final hacia nuestro destino, sin mucho más que destacar, ya que esta última parte de la ruta nos dedicamos a seguir la carretera principal. Allí nos esperaban nuestras compañeras en el hotel, y tras descansar un poco, nos fuimos a cenar a un restaurante cercano. ¡Era genial tener todo el hotel solo para nosotros!

El día siguiente volvimos en autobús, ya para Turku, después de haber recorrido 70 kilómetros en solo un fin de semana, estábamos muy cansados, pero fue curioso ver como el autobús montaba en el barco para cruzar las islas.

Sin duda para un español, es una gran experiencia, poder disfrutar de este tipo de paísaje, ya que de la zona que vengo yo no es muy común ver tanto paisaje verde junto.

Joaquin Galve


We’ll start by talking about St Olav. St Olav was the king of Norway throughout the eleventh century, and stands out for being the person who established the Christian religion as an official in the Nordic country, a fact that earned him so that the Catholic Church after his death recognized the status of Saint .

To this day, and in memory of the saint, we are trying to create a pilgrim route that would occupy much of northern Europe (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), and our mission as tourism students was to prove Different routes around the Turku archipelago and study their viability.

Our adventure started on a Friday, April 7, we took a local bus from Kaupatori (Turku), to Sattmark, which is where we would start walking to the port. There we would take our first boat direction to the island of Pargas. On our way to Pargas, we had a meeting with James, the organizer of the project, who led us up a hill through the forest, and at the top of the hill we were able to observe one of the most wonderful landscapes of our adventure, we had one Privileged view of the entire archipelago, an image worth remembering.

After this small detour we continue walking along the main route, towards the hotel where we would spend the first night, in Vestergard. Before arriving at our destination, we found, on the way a glass factory, which unfortunately was closed. Then we arrived at Vestergard, where we slept in a magnificent hotel, in the middle of nature, and whose breakfast was simply wonderful.

The next morning we went to our new destination, Grannas. At first we walked along the main road, by the sea, having really nice views. After this we crossed two long bridges that joined the view, it was very windy, and even gave a freak of vertigo, but the views that were had from the bridges was the best of the second day.

We made a stop to eat in Nauvo, in a restaurant next to the port, which we used to visit the town. After this, and since the distance between Nauvo and Grannas was very scarce, and we had enough time to walk, we decided to take an alternative route, and cross forest through, climbing small slopes, and bordering the lake that separated both sites. It was really a challenge, although the distance was not very long, the unevenness and the complex orography of it, made us take a good time to complete that journey.

Finally we arrived at Grannas, where we could rest, as curiosity to say that the hotel was full of fishermen, who were “enjoying” the night.

The next morning we set out to make the last senderista march, this time, with two less companions, who had muscular problems due to the overexertion of the previous day, with which only two people would cover the final distance of 24 kilometers between Grannas and Korpoo .

It was the day that we traveled the most, but in turn it was the most affordable day in terms of difficulty of the trip. We started walking along alternative paths that bordered a long, probably the best view of the last day. After this, we returned to the main road, and we did not abandon it all day. We can point out as curiosity, that we had to catch another boat to cross between islands (these boat trips are free), and that on our way to Korpoo, we found a van selling ice cream in the middle of nowhere. It was certainly a good incentive!

After this small break, we arrive at the end towards our destination, without much more to emphasize, since this last part of the route we dedicated to follow the main road. There our companions waited for us in the hotel, and after a little rest, we went to dinner at a nearby restaurant. It was great to have the whole hotel just for us!

The next day we went back by bus to Turku, after traveling 70 kilometers in just one weekend, we were very tired, but it was curious to see how the bus was riding on the boat to cross the islands.

Without a doubt for a Spanish, it is a great experience, to be able to enjoy this type of scenery, since of the area that I come I is not very common to see so much green landscape together.

Joaquin Galve

A bilingual pilgrim en français!!

This blog post is in French with an English summary per day

Introduction : En tant qu’étudiant en échange en Finlande, notre école Novia situé à Turku dans le sud de la Finlande, prend part à ce projet qui consiste à créer un pèlerinage reliant la Finlande jusqu’à la Norvège, c’est donc un très gros projet en relation avec l’Union Européenne. Il s’agirait donc commencer le projet à Turku et de poursuivre jusqu’en Norvège en passant par tout l’archipel finlandais, nous avons donc nous étudiants en échange pris part à ce projet en effectuant un test de marche dans une partie de l’archipel. C’était pour moi une bonne occasion de découvrir l’archipel car je n’en avais jamais entendu parler auparavant et je n’avais aucune idée à quoi cela ressemblait. Etant étudiante dans le secteur du tourisme je pense que ce projet pourrait permettre de développer le tourisme en Finlande et de faire venir plus de touristes, à l’heure d’aujourd’hui de plus en plus de personnes aiment pratiquer la marche à pieds. La Finlande reste encore très peu visiter mise à part la Laponie qui est une destination prisée, et je pense que ce pays mérite d’être découvert et visiter davantage dans les années à venir. C’était également pour moi une expérience unique que je ne pourrais sans doute réaliser qu’une fois dans ma vie.


Introduction: As an exchange student in Finland, our Novia school in Turku, southern Finland, is participating in this project of creating a pilgrimage from Finland to Norway. Very large project in relation with the European Union. So we would have to start the project in Turku and continue to Norway through the whole of the Finnish archipelago, so as exchange students we have taking part in this project by doing a walking test in part of the country, archipelago. It was a good opportunity for me to discover the archipelago because I had never heard of it before and I had no idea what it looked like. Being a student in the tourism sector I think that this project could develop tourism in Finland and bring more tourists, at the time of today more and more people like to practice walking. Finland still has very little to visit except Lapland which is a popular destination, and I think this country deserves to be discovered and visit more in the years to come. It was also a unique experience for me that I could only realize once in my life.

Jour 1 : Le début de l’expérience à commencer, nous sommes partis à 4, avec une bonne paire de baskets et un gros sac à dos pour un séjour de 3 jours de marche et un jour de retour en bus. Nous avions décidé de marcher environ 20 km par jour et de retourner vers Turku en bus. Nous avons pris le bus pour nous rendre à Sattmark afin de commencer notre périple au cœur de la nature et non pas de commencer en marcher dans la ville et au bord de la route principale avec les voitures. Une fois arrivée à Sattmark nous avons marchés à une bonne allure le long de la route principale mais il y avait un chemin adapté ce qui était donc agréable, après 8 km de marche nous sommes arrivés au port pour prendre le ferry et rejoindre la prochaine île. Première expérience de prendre ce type de ferry qui transporte les voitures et qui leur permet de traverser dans tout l’archipel. Après une courte pause la vraie nature finlandaise commençait à montrer le bout de son nez. Nous avons continué notre marche, nous avons donné rendez-vous à James, cette partie de l’expérience a sans doute été l’une de mes préférées, James est vraiment quelqu’un de génial et il nous a donner plein de bonnes informations sur ce que l’on pouvait trouver dans la nature. Une fois James parti nous avons continué notre route jusqu’à Västergård pour rejoindre notre B&B, l’hôte a été très accueillant et l’endroit était vraiment chaleureux. Nous avons pu faire un barbecue malgré une météo pas très clémente et se reposer après 18 km de parcouru.

Day 1: The beginning of the experience started, we left at 4 peoples, 2 girls and 2 boys, with a good pair of sneakers and a big backpack for a stay of 3 days walking and a day back by bus. We decided to walk about 20 km per day and return to Turku by bus. We took the bus to Sattmark to begin our journey in the heart of nature and not to start walking in the city and along the main road with the cars. Once we arrived at Sattmark we walked at a good pace along the main road but there was a suitable road which was so nice after 8 km walk we arrived at the port to catch the ferry and get to the next island. First experience of taking this type of ferry that carries the cars and that allows them to cross throughout the archipelago. After a short break the real Finnish nature began to show the end of his nose. We continued our walk, we arranged for James, this part of the experience was probably one of my favorites, James is really a great person and he gave us lots of good information about What could be found in nature. Once James left we went on our way to Västergård to join our B & B, the host was very welcoming and the place was really warm. We were able to make a barbecue in spite of a weather not very merciful and to rest after 18 km of walked.

Jour 2 : Après un bon petit déjeuner le deuxième jour pouvait commencer, nous avions environ 25 km à marcher ce jour là pour nous rendre à Grännäs où nous attendait un second B&B. Toujours armés de nos baskets et de notre sac à dos nous avons continué notre marche avec le soleil qui brillé, un vrai plaisir. Après avoir observé quelques biches le long de la route nous avons décidé de couper à travers les bois afin de voir un peu plus de vraie nature car marcher le long d’une rouge avec des voitures devient vite agaçant. Nous avons suivi 2 lacs en les contournant pour rejoindre la ville de Nagu, cette partie a vraiment été géniale, les paysages étaient magnifiques et d’autant plus avec le soleil. Après une dizaine de km parcouru nous sommes arrivés à Nagu une petite ville un peu plus importante que les autres, nous sommes allés visiter le port et ensuite déjeuner au restaurant « L’escale » au bord du port. Il nous restait encore une bonne dizaine de kilomètres avant de rejoindre Grännäs, James nous avait conseillé une route un peu plus sympa en contournant un lac, nous avons donc tenté de couper à travers les bois, ce qui n’était pas forcément une bonne idée car il y avait beaucoup de dénivelé et cela a été très fatigant même si cela nous a permis de voir de beaux paysages. Nous perdions beaucoup de temps dans les bois donc nous avons décidé de rejoindre la route principale, la fin de la journée était longue et nous étions content d’arrivés à notre B&B afin de passé une bonne nuit.


Day 2: After a good breakfast the second day could start, we had about 25 km to walk that day to go to Grännäs where we were waiting for a second B & B. Always armed with our sneakers and our backpack we continued our walk with the sun shining, a real pleasure. After observing a few hinds along the road we decided to cut through the woods to see a bit more of real nature as walking along a red with cars quickly becomes annoying. We followed 2 lakes by skirting them to the town of Nagu, this part was really great, the scenery was beautiful and all the more so with the sun. After a dozen miles traveled we arrived in Nagu a small town a little more important than the others, we went to visit the port and then lunch at the restaurant “L’escale” at the edge of the port. We still had a good ten kilometers before joining Grännäs, James had advised us a more pleasant road by passing a lake, so we tried to cut through the woods, which was not necessarily a good idea because there was a lot of uneven and it was very tiring even though it allowed us to see beautiful landscape. We lost a lot of time in the woods so we decided to join the main road, the end of the day was long and we were glad we arrived at our B & B in order to have a good night.


Jour 3 : Le troisième jour a été le plus compliqué pour ma part, après la journée de la veille à grimper dans la forêt avec un fort dénivelé je me suis blessé aux genoux et j’étais dans l’impossibilité de continuer la marche je me ne sentais pas marcher 20 km avec cette douleur, j’aurais aussi ralenti les autres, l’hôtel du B&B m’a donc gentiment conduit en voiture jusqu’à Nagu pour que je puisse prendre le bus jusqu’à Korppo la dernière ville que l’on devait rejoindre. Avec Solenn nous avons donc trouver un restaurant dans la ville de Korppo et nous avons rencontré une dame très accueillante et qui de plus parler le français. Des gens de la ville de Nagu se questionnait sur la présente de deux petites française perdu dans l’archipel finlandais, on leur a donc expliquer comment on était venu ici et le projet auquel on participait, ils étaient vraiment très intéressés et nous ont posés un tas de questions et nous avons même pris le déjeuner avec eux. Nous avons passé l’après-midi à nous reposer en attendant le retour des garçons. L’hôtel était confortable et sympa. Pour le dîner nous sommes retournés au même restaurant que le midi avec les garçons, nous avons passés la soirée à jouer aux cartes pour se détendre et profiter de nos dernières heures dans l’archipel finlandais. Le lendemain matin nous avons pris le bus à 10h et après un trajet de 2h pour sommes arrivés à Turku.

Day 3: The third day was the most complicated for me, after the day before to climb in the forest with a strong uneven I injured my knees and I was unable to continue walking I did not feel to walk 20 km with this pain, I would also have slowed down the others, so director of the hotel B & B kindly drove me to Nagu so that I could take the bus to Korppo the last town that We had to join. So with Solenn we found a restaurant in the town of Korppo and we met a very welcoming lady who also speaks French. People from the town of Nagu were questioning the present of two French girls lost in the Finnish archipelago, so we explained to them how we came here and the project we were involved in, they were really very interested and asked us Lots of questions and we even had lunch with them. We spent the afternoon resting while waiting for the return of the boys. The hotel was comfortable and friendly. For dinner we went back to the same restaurant as the lunch with the boys, we spent the evening playing cards to relax and enjoy our last hours in the Finnish archipelago. The next morning, we took the bus at 10am and after a 2 hours’ drive to Turku.

Sentiments et Nature Finlandaise : A propos de mes sentiments ? J’ai vraiment trouvé cette expérience géniale et unique, je suis très contente d’avoir pris part au projet et de pouvoir y contribuer en donner un retour de cette expérience pour les futurs touristes. Je ne m’attendais pas à voir autant de végétation à vrai dire, je pensais qu’après le climat de la Finlande, la nature était relativement sèche et bien non ce fût une bonne surprise, la nature était verdoyante et très verte si je peux dire cela. L’archipel est vraiment un endroit unique dans son genre, c’est très calme et relaxant, il fait vraiment du bien au moral et permet de prendre un grand bol d’air, de se retrouver seul et juste de profiter de la nature. Nous avons croisé certains animaux ce qui était aussi agréable. Le calme de ces îles et la gentillesse des personnes m’a incroyablement surprise, tous les gens étaient très intéressés par notre présence et je pense que cela leur fait plaisir de voir de nouveaux visages dans leurs petites villes. J’espère vraiment que ce projet viendra à bout il permettrait vraiment de développer le tourisme de la Finlande et aussi de faire découvrir cet endroit magnifique qu’est l’Archipel.

Feelings and Finnish nature: About my feelings? I really found this experience great and unique, I am very happy to have taken part in the project and to be able to contribute to give a feedback of this experience for the future tourists. I did not expect to see so much vegetation to tell the truth, I thought with the climate of Finland, nature was relatively dry and well it was a good surprise, nature was very green if I can Say that. The archipelago is truly a unique place of its kind, it is very calm and relaxing, it really does good mood and allows to take a breath of fresh air, to be alone and just to enjoy nature, really it’s a peaceful place. We crossed some animals which was also nice. The calmness of these islands and the kindness of the people surprised me incredibly, all the people were very interested in our presence and I think it makes them happy to see new faces in their small towns. I truly hope that this project will come to an end it would really help to develop the tourism of Finland and also to make discover this beautiful place that is the Archipelago.

Célia Piscione


Island hopping pilgrim style

At the beginning of our journey. We started our trip early in morning, we met in Turku center and took the bus to Pargas. The journey began with a small a mistake. We took the föli bus that doesn’t go any further than Pargas, and our starting point was Sattmark which is 9 km from Pargas. Luckily a 10 minute ride with a taxi was an easy solution. Our taxi driver was really cool and interested about our journey. She explained some things about the summer season and tourism in Pargas. Finally we had arrived at our starting point Sattmark. From Sattmark we had to walk about 9 km to take the ferry to the Nagu Island. The route was easy, we were walking on a rocky cycling road next to the main road. It was still early in the morning so there wasn’t much traffic. Everyone was happy and the mood was on top. We were all looking forward for our 3-day hiking trip and explore the Finnish archipelago.IMG_3294

Our journey the second day started really well. We spent the night in Västergård B&B. Really good accomodation. A calm and relaxing place, suited us hikers perfect to load the batteries for the next days. The breakfast was rich, we were offered different kinds of hams, cheeses, youghurts and cereals. And coffee of course to awake the mind and soul. After the breakfast we packed our stuff and left. Our plan was to hike until Nagu and then from Nagu head west around the lake to our next resting place which was in Grännäs. In the morning the sun wasn’t shining but it wasn’t cold either. Our first 7 km of hiking took place throught small roads surrounded by big fields and small forests. Really beautiful landscapes with a great feeling of the Finnish nature. We took some paths throught the woods and walked next to the two small lakes before Nagu. Luckily the weather turned out great and the sun was shining for a couple of hours. We had a rest next to the one lake and enjoyed the nature.

After we catched the ferry to Nagu island we took a small break near the port. We had cup of coffee that we had bought on the other side and had some snacks. Now that we were on the island the journey had officially began. We had planned a meeting with James 11.30 to give us some more information and take us to a nice path throught the woods and up to the highest point of the island. The mini trip with James turned out to be one of the best things of our journey. James knows a lot of things about the archipelago and is an experienced hiker with a deep knowledge about survival in the wild. At the highest point of the hill we had a coffee break while enjoying the view. We had the luck to taste some wild products James had brought with him. James continued hiking with us for a while and then left at the end of the path.

The beginning of the route was great. When we left Grännäs we walked on small roads throught the forest. It was really calm and you could only hear the nature. Unfortunately our hike throught the forest didn’t last so long that day. We walked more than 12 km on the main road. Still it was a good experience because we had a target, to reach Korpo and end our journey. The highlight of our day was we we heard the sirens of the ice-cream truck. An ice-cream suited great for two tired hikers on a sunny day. The end had come. The last survivors had reached their destination. After 3 days hiking and 70 kilometers on our back we had arrived to Korpo. Our bodies were tired but our minds full of new experiences. Directly that we arrived to Korpo we went to our rooms to have a rest (or siesta). The last day we walked totally 25 km. After the siesta we had dinner and then went back to the hotel to discuss our journey.

Day 2, the hardest day. When we arrived in Nagu we went first to the market to buy some snacks and had a break. The snacks werent enough and it was time for lunch. We had lunch at a restaurant and sat a while until the food was down and we could continue. For some reason we decided to walk throught the forest and then walk next to the lake. The terrain was hard and going up and down all the time. Even if it was hard it was nice to escape the civilisation and get a full experience of the nature. We were mostly on high hills so the view was great. After a point we realized that we were walking too slow so headed to some “normal” road. When we found the road we still had to walk for about 7 km. Everyone was getting tired and the mood was down. Even of the difficult circumstances and the tireness we were finally approaching to Grännäs. We arrived and the host welcomed us warmly. We had some sandwiches and tea at the hotels restaurant. After that it was time for a shower and a long rest.

Spiridos Felekis

Walking Galtby-Sottunga-Mariehamn

In the Autumn 2016 tourism students in Novia University of Applies Sciences got the chance to be a part of a big project with St Olav Waterway. Our assignment was to test walk the routes on the Finnish side and give feedback and improvement options. We got divided in groups and some walked already in the Autumn and the rest of us started planning our hikes in the spring 2017.

My group contained of Heidi and me from Finland and Juan from Spain. We also started off the walking with another group which consisted of Daniela, Annika and Clara, that later on focused om Kökar. We met up with them again in Långnäs and walked together to Mariehamn.


My group knew for a long time that we wanted to walk on Åland island, because none of us had really been on the small islands before. With the other group we decided to split up and they chose to go to Kökar while we went to Sottunga.

Processed with VSCO with e4 presetAnnika and Heidi on the ferry to Kökar and Sottunga

Sottunga is a small island with only barely 100 inhabitants, and it’s the smallest municipality in Finland. We arrived to Sottunga on Friday afternoon with the ferry that came from Galtby, and we were immediately welcomed by two locals, Ralf and Sarah, who drove us to our accommodation, Lyckliga Lotta. We left our bags at the accommodation and started walking together with Ralf, Britt and Sarah who functioned as our guides along the route. The route was marked with some white tape pieces, and would have been pretty hard to find without the guides. Hopefully there will be better signs in the future when the route is done!

Ralf, Sarah, Britt, Heidi and Juan

We walked almost 10 km that day and saw all kinds of different terrains and beautiful surroundings during our walk. There were fields, woods, sand roads and beaches. We also got to see the church on Sottunga, which was a small church but really pretty! We had a lovely weather and a nice day! In the evening we had dinner that our hosts had prepared at Lyckliga Lotta, and after that we had a good night’s sleep!

DSC_0546.JPGJuan on a beach

The next morning, we ate a big breakfast at the accommodation and met up with the other group on the ferry going towards Långnäs. We arrived at about 10 a.m. in Långnäs and started our 30km hike with positive energy.

DSC_0477.JPGEverything went well for the first 15 km but after that people were getting tired both in the head and the feet. We were almost giving up, but we made it all the way to Mariehamn! We were really happy and proud of ourselves for managing to walk the whole 30 km. It took almost seven hours, and you can probably imagine how tired we were afterwards. We would not maybe recommend to walk this route (Långnäs-Mariehamn) because there were not actually much to see. Biking on the other hand would probably be more fun!

We spent the night in Mariehamn at Hotel Savoy and ate a big hotel breakfast the next day. Then it was time to go home, and we went back to Turku with Viking Line in the afternoon.

All of us are really happy ant thankful that we got to be a part of this project and we had a lot of fun! We also have big faith in this project and we recommend it for everybody interested in walking 🙂

DSC_0523.JPGHappy hikers!

Written by: Annika and Heidi